The Shires by Pip shot in Madrid, Spain for Decca Records

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Country Music Stars The Shires

British country music band The Shires are made up of singer-songwriters Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes, The duo formed back in 2013 and released their record-breaking debut album ‘Brave‘ two years later in 2015, the album charted at number 10 in the UK album chart making The Shires the first UK country music act to score a top 10 album.

And now The Shires are back with their brand new album ‘My Universe‘, and following the success of fellow British country music duo Ward Thomas’ record-breaking number 1 album, they are hoping to emulate their success with their second LP.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Country Music Stars The Shires 2

‘My Universe’ is on course to chart at number 3 tonight when the official UK album chart is announced.

Here The Shires talk exclusively to Celeb Mix about their second album, their upcoming tour, how the genre of country music is now starting to really take off in Britain, and much, much more.

How have your lives changed since your debut album ‘Brave’ was released?
It feels like we are on the road all the time now. We’ve played shows in so many amazing places all over the world. Seattle, Portland, Berlin to name a few. Also, we do get recognised a lot more out and about which is still a bit strange. 

You have been credited with helping country music grow in the UK, how does that make you feel?
We are so proud to be part of the rise of country music in the UK. It makes us so happy, that the music we love so much is getting recognition now and so many people are listening [to it]. When we first met three years ago, we felt like the only country [music] fans in the UK! 

Fellow country duo Ward Thomas recently became the first UK country act to top the album chart, how are you hoping the industry capitalises on their success?
We are really happy for the girls, it’s a great achievement. Our first album ‘Brave’ was also the best selling country album last year in the UK including the US acts, which is another great calling card for UK country. Hopefully, seeing the success us and Ward Thomas have had, the labels will be looking to sign more homegrown country acts. 

Its been revealed by CMA that 47% of 18-24 year-olds now describe themselves as country music fans, do you feel the genre is now competing with pop?
It’s an amazing statistic and really proves how much country [music] is growing here. With country acts doing so well in the main UK charts now you can argue it’s being absorbed into pop. 

How do you think the industry can help grow the UK country scene even further?
Giving a good media platform for country acts is really important going forward to get the music out to as many people as possible. We also really hope that the time will be taken to develop new UK country acts properly, just like Decca (The Shires’ record label) have with us. 

What are you hoping to achieve with your new album ‘My Universe?
We really hope ‘My Universe’ resonates with people like ‘Brave’ did. So many of our songs have been the soundtrack to big moments in people’s lives. First dances at weddings, coming out as lesbian or even recovery from heart surgery. We poured our heart and soul into every word and every note on this album and hopefully our fans, new and old will feel that when they listen.  

What is your personal favourite song on the new LP
We both love ‘Other People’s Things’ which was written with our friend Nina Nesbitt. It paints a really clear picture of seeing your whole life in boxes. It seems to be really moving people. 

How would you describe the sound of the new album?
Our sound is definitely bigger on ‘My Universe’. We played a couple of arena tours supporting The Corrs and Little Big Town. Those shows really inspired us to go ‘big’, and be able to fill those huge arenas. 

When writing a new record where do you look to for inspiration?
Our lives, listening to other people’s stories and really stepping back and looking at the world around us. We write a lot in Nashville with most of the top writers. Often we’ll spend the first hour just talking about what’s going on in all of our lives at the time. Country music is all about being honest and saying it how it is. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times a song lyric comes directly out of a conversation at the start of a session. 

You’re also going on tour later this year, what can your fans expect from your live shows?
We love playing live, it’s still the best way to hear music in our opinion. Our sound has really grown too. We have a full band now, and the songs really come to life when we play live. It’s so amazing to look out and see people singing every lyric with the biggest smile on their face. We’re being supported by US country [music] star, Canaan Smith as well, who is awesome. We might even have a couple of special guests too on this tour.  

What is the best and worst thing about being on the road?
Being up on stage playing for our happy fans every night, is like having your best birthday party ever. It’s impossible not to be happy. Also, now we have a tour bus with bunk beds we can get a good night sleep and wake up ready to go in the next city or town. The worst bit is probably the showers in venues. Some of them you feel less clean after you’ve showered! 

If you could collaborate with any artist who would you choose?
Obviously Dolly Parton would be a dream come true for us. Her voice is still amazing and so unique. People often forget what an amazing songwriter she is too. Writing and singing a song with her would be the dream ticket!   

What songs are you enjoying right now?
Love Triangle’ by RaeLynn is a big favourite of ours at the moment, it’s so moving and painfully honest. On the pop [music] side we are loving ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers. The lyrics are so different for a pop song.  

What do you hope to achieve in the next ten years?
We just feel so lucky to do what we are doing. If we can still be making music we love in ten years, playing to as many fans as we are now every night then we couldn’t ask for any more. 

The Shires’ brand new album ‘My Universe‘ is out now.

Tickets for The Shires’ 2016 tour are available to purchase from their official website right now.

Did you enjoy our exclusive interview with The Shires? Will you be going to see them on tour later this year? Let us know over on Twitter @CelebMix.   

Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
Twitter: @cherylssoldier1
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